Monday, October 25, 2021

When the Student Becomes the Teacher

Coach Wayne’s Corner

Many years ago, before moving to Florida, I lived in Texas. I was just beginning my tennis career and for my first job as an instructor, I was hired by a coach who was younger than I was, but who had much more experience than I did, both as a competitor and as an instructor.

He was originally from Liverpool, England, had played at the University of Houston on a tennis scholarship, had competed on the professional tour and had even played matches on the hallowed grounds of Centre Court at Wimbledon!

Even though he was several years younger than me, it became immediately clear that I was the student and that he was the teacher.

As I began learning from my guru, it did not take me long to realize that I would never be as accomplished a player/competitor as he was. However, he was able to instill in me the belief and confidence that I could someday be as great of an instructor/coach as he was (a challenge which I am continually working on and striving to improve upon, to this very day).

I spent several years learning from him. Like a sponge absorbing water, I soaked in as much knowledge as I could from his experience as a professional player and coach.

Two important things I learned from my guru way back then; that a good coach should always strive to see that their students are challenged to improve, and to guide them in achieving their short, mid, and long term goals.

I also learned that a good student must understand that all of us have limitations in our capabilities and we must accept those limitations and set our goals at a challenging, yet achievable level, and be proud of our eventual results. This is a lesson and a philosophy which I have applied to all aspects of my life.

My guru also taught me another important lesson, which was, as the teacher, try to always learn something from my student in every lesson.

I may learn something from hearing about their experiences competing in the sports of tennis and pickleball, or I might gain some insight from hearing about experiences in their personal or professional life, which may help me in dealing with issues and challenges I may be facing in my own daily life.

It is a two way street between teacher and student, the give and the take of communication and information is vital to the success of conquering the goal. So even though I am now the teacher, I will always still be a student.

Wayne Clark is a professional tennis instructor with over 25 years experience coaching players on all levels of the game. Wayne is also qualified in pickleball instruction and is on staff as an instructor with The Pickleball Academy of Southwest Florida at East Naples Community Park. Contact Coach Wayne by email at, or by phone or text at 239-450-6161.

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